Design

The industry has come a long way in the last couple of years, and Acer has stepped up their game with the Swift 3’s design. It features an all-aluminum exterior with a brushed finish, and compared to any plastic model, it offers significantly better looks, along with that cool-to-the-touch metal feel that always adds a bit of luxury.

Opening the lid shows off the 15.6-inch display, which isn’t a thin-bezel design, but that’s not really expected in this category. The larger display as a percentage of the total size helps mask the bezels too.

Taking a look at the keyboard, we see the first issue with the Swift 3 on the 15.6-inch models, which feature a number pad squeezed in on the right. The 14-inch models don’t offer the number pad, and frankly, the 15-inch version shouldn’t either. It’s just too cramped. There’s likely some market that wants the number pad on a 15.6-inch notebook, but it just tends to not offer a great experience since there’s not really enough room to offer the correct size one. This one is missing the addition and enter keys that should be on the right, which really takes away from the reason to even have one to start with. You’ll also notice that the power key is part of the keyboard, which is something that can tend to be an issue, but since it’s above the number pad rather than replacing the delete key as it is on some notebooks, it’s not as big of an issue.

Keeping with the keyboard, Acer has added backlighting to this model, which is great to see. Unfortunately, the backlight isn’t tied to the trackpad use, so it will shut off if you’re just using the trackpad. It would be great to see Acer tie the trackpad to the backlighting so you have an easier time keeping it activated when you’re using the laptop.

Finally, the keyboard itself is not the greatest. There’s not a lot of travel on the keys, and the keys themselves are somewhat slippery, so trying to touch-type on this notebook is a bit of a challenge. With a larger, thicker notebook in the 15.6-inch model, it would be nice to see a better keyboard than this. Of the entire system, the keyboard is one of the most disappointing features.

The keyboard does offer backlighting though, which is always welcome, but the keyboard backlighting isn’t tied to the trackpad use like on most systems, so when using it in a dark room, the lighting turns off when you are moving the pointer, and then it’s hard to find where the keys are again.

Luckily the same isn’t the case for the trackpad. Acer’s generously sized trackpad features Microsoft Precision drivers, and has a nice smooth finish. It’s large, but not distractingly so, and works very well. Trackpads can still be a hit or miss item, somehow, but this one is a hit.

Looking at the sides we can see all of the I/O, and there’s plenty here for almost anyone. With a 0.75-inch thick notebook, you may have expected to see an Ethernet port as well, but it’s not there, and on a model such as this it makes sense to omit it. If this was a business focused machine, it would be important, but most consumers are going to want to keep this untethered you’d have to think. If they do need Ethernet, there’s plenty of USB ports to hook it to.

The Acer Swift 3 is a well-designed notebook, with plenty of inputs, a smart looking aluminum finish, and creature comforts like a fingerprint reader to make your life easier. It’s only let down by the less than stellar keyboard, and that’s a shame.

Introduction System Performance: Testing the AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
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  • jaydee - Thursday, May 03, 2018 - link

    Looking forward to Ryzen hitting the business line notebooks (Elitebook/Latitudes). Lot of employees at my company are still being given the woeful Elitebook 745 G3 (Carrizo) as of today, as band new laptops for a 4 year cycle... Reply
  • Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - link

    They did, and the offerings are atrocious and insanely overpriced. Reply
  • Valantar - Thursday, May 03, 2018 - link

    This is very promising in terms of performance, even if AMD still needs to convince OEMs to build more premium SKUs with Ryzen mobile. Also, that base platform power draw needs fixing, for sure. Wonder how much of that is RAM, but I suppose that would be pretty much impossible to measure.

    Related to that: why doesn't RAM have some sort of turbo/power saving implementation like CPUs? Given that this likely runs dual channel 1.2V DDR4 at ~2400MT/s, couldn't the base power draw benefit massively from downclocking the RAM to, say, 1600MT/s at idle and simultaneously lowering voltage? I get that this isn't part of the DDR4 spec, and that the ICs and DIMMs as such aren't tested or certified for lower voltages and speeds, but the lack of dynamism in RAM is starting to feel old. The same goes for high-speed desktop RAM, really - why run 3600MT/s RAM idling at the desktop? It can't possibly be /that/ hard to implement a two-state (e.g. "low power" and "normal") dynamic system that's directly tied to other system loads (not just CPU, but GPU, RAM, network and disk activity too). Tuning the boost/de-clock triggers and control algorithms would likely require a bit of work, but is this really that hard to do?

    I suppose this could trip up a few applications that are highly reliant on timely RAM access, but those can't be very common in normal consumer usage - and I don't envision this catching on in datcenters and the like. Might that be why we still haven't seen something like this, as businesses and server OEMs don't care?
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, May 03, 2018 - link

    If idle link throttling of DDR ever happens, I'd expect it to happen first on mobile, and then work its way up though LPDDR, to regular DDR specs. OTOH GDDR has been able to do this for a while, so it's definitely doable without seriously impacting peak performance. GPUs are power pigs, and lower idle power has been a major improvement over the last decade; but it's a segment not willing to sacrifice performance at the top to get it.

    You're probably right about it never making it to the data center. I've read that a number of the major cloud platforms have disabled CPU clock throttling and run at full speed 24/7 regardless of the actual load because serving responses at low speed and/or boosting back up from idle to full speed have measurable impacts on latency and the major web companies care about every millisecond there.
    Reply
  • neblogai - Friday, May 04, 2018 - link

    Gaming benchmarks show mobile Raven Ridge processors doing exactly that: RAM clock changes in the game, 933-1066-1200. You can see such behaviour in TechEpiphany's videos on youtube. However- because this is not something seen before- these readings are semi-discarded. In would be great if someone tested it properly, or asked AMD if this is how it really works, and is not an error by monitoring software. Reply
  • HStewart - Thursday, May 03, 2018 - link

    I think for comparison, it would have been nice to test the Intel version of same model - I found it interesting that 2700 version was more expensive than the Intel with MX150. Also the Intel model was less weight which tells me Intel components are more compact. The 2700 model had more ssd but that should not be that way. Reply
  • Cooe - Thursday, May 03, 2018 - link

    It's because of the doubled SSD size that the 2700 model is more expensive obviously. Reply
  • Jimster480 - Monday, May 28, 2018 - link

    Its not that because the AMD machines are relegated to cheap SATA bottom of the barrel drives and ultra cheap screens. The price is just Intel making sure that nobody is going to make a competitive notebook.
    This laptop doesn't even land in "mainstream" it lands in "ultra budget with such a big price nobody will buy it". The screen, SSD, battery, wifi, chassis, keyboard are all unacceptable for this price range and Acer knows it aswell. But the check they receive from intel outweighs the obvious lack of sales they will have for this model.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, May 03, 2018 - link

    I would be surprised if you could tell the weight difference between the two. Its 4 ounces. And the Intel is cheaper because its SSD is half the size. Reply
  • Krysto - Thursday, May 03, 2018 - link

    Still only 8GB of RAM?! Come on. Reply

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